Alachua County School Board named Shane Andrew as interim superintendent two weeks after firing former superintendent Carlee Simon.
The members voted 3-2 Tuesday, with Mildred Russell and Gunnar Paulson in dissent. Chairman Robert Hyatt asked for agreement in the board’s nomination at the March 2 meeting, but the vote was split again.
Russell made the motion to fire Simon without cause in the March 2 board meeting. The board’s split vote, 3-2, fired the former superintendent. Public comment dominated three of the six hours of the meeting with criticisms focused on pandemic-related issues like masking.
Each member brought nominations for the role. Both Hyatt and Tina Certain recommended Andrew, who has served Alachua County Public Schools for over 30 years as a teacher, assistant principal, principal and is the district’s chief of operations.
Andrew maintains a wide-known presence throughout ACPS. His principalship spanned several schools: Newberry High School, Eastside High School and A.L. Mebane Middle School, as well as assistant principal for Hawthorne Middle/High School.
Prior to his promotion to interim superintendent, he was ACPS chief of operations; a role that supervises human resources, transportation, maintenance and more.
“He has a reputation for treating employees as he would want to be treated,” Hyatt said. “I think he is terrific.”
Certain echoed Hyatt’s sentiments.
“The qualities and the criticisms of what [the former superintendent] didn’t have, Mr. Andrew brings that,” Certain said. “And he would indeed have a level of stability to that spot.”
As a former principal of multiple schools, some of the public’s criticisms of Simon’s administrative experience don’t apply.
Russell and Paulson, who favored firing Simon but voted against Andrew, nominated Kathy Black, a retired administrator from the ESE department, for the position.
Russell expressed concern over Andrew’s current administrative role.
While Andrew serves as interim superintendent, ACPS doesn’t have a chief of operations, which handles transportation services.
“Right now, of course, we are having serious transportation issues,” Russell said.
Although she did not vote for him, she said she looks forward to working with Andrew.
Andrew’s role is not permanent.
“I really believe that the next board that is seated in November should be the board that chooses the next permanent superintendent,” Hyatt said.
At that time, the new board can conduct a traditional search with community input.
Even though four of the five board member seats are up in November, it will continue to work until then. Appointing an interim superintendent who can move the district forward with the time this board has left was Certain’s goal.
“We have $60 million in ESSER funding that we have to oversee and spend and make sure we’re not just spending it and it’s not going out the door but it actually has a huge impact and changes academic outcomes,” Certain said. “We need a leader who knows the ins and outs of that and who’s been around and can do that.”
For the next eight months, Andrew will serve as interim superintendent, closing out the 2021-2022 school year and beginning the next in August.
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Emma Behrmann is a third-year journalism major and The Alligator’s metro desk editor for the Spring 2023 semester. She loves bodybuilding and spends most of her free time at the gym.